After leading by as many as 25 points, the University of Evansville men's basketball team coasted its way to a 62-50 victory over Tennessee Tech on Tuesday evening at the Eblen Center.
Ned Cox led the way with 15 points for UE (3-2) while D.J. Balentine had 11 as he hit three treys in the contest. As a team, the Aces finished with a 34-24 rebounding edge as Ryan Sawvell led the way with eight.
"It was a total team effort," head coach Marty Simmons said. "Overall that was one of our better team efforts. For about 30-35 minutes, we played some of the best basketball we have played all year."
Both offenses were unable to find their rhythms early on as Tennessee Tech, who missed its first three shots, made two in a row to take a 5-4 lead four minutes in. With 10:43 remaining, Mitchell Hill connected on Tech's third trey of the contest to put them up 15-11.
At that point, the Aces took over. The defense clamped down and helped the offense get in a groove. What began as an 8-0 run turned into a 22-2 stretch over the final 10:43 of the period. Ned Cox and Jordan Nelson hit three pointers before another trey later by freshman D.J. Balentine extended the run. Lanerryl Johnson made a layup with 7:26 remaining to mark the only points for the Golden Eagles over that span.
Evansville's defense, who allowed just 53.5 PPG entering the game (tied for 24th in the country), held Tennessee Tech to just 1-of-11 shooting over the final 10+ minutes of the stanza. After being outrebounded by an average of 10 per game, UE had 22 at the break while TTU had just ten. Part of the success down the stretch was the play of Ryan Sawvell. The sophomore from Mundelein, Ill. had four points and six boards. Eight Aces found their way onto the scoresheet in the period with nobody having more than five.
By holding the Golden Eagles to just 17 points in the first half, it marked the second-straight game UE held the opposition to under 20 points in a period as Western Illinois had 18 in the second half on Saturday.
After the run to end the first half, Evansville came right back out with the first four points of the second period to take its largest lead at 37-17. The run was halted when Ogbe hit a bucket. UE continued to pad its advantage as Ned Cox hit two more three-pointers as Evansville took its largest lead at 55-30.
Tennessee Tech began to chip away at the deficit, scoring seven points in a row, led by a long Johnson three-pointer. The run was too little, too late as the Aces fought back and held their own down the stretch to come away with the 12-point win.